Guys, do you like science fiction?
Stahelian: I’ve always been into science fiction. For example, John Wick is hyperreal. But it also has this analog sense. Old computers, old suits, old things.
Reeves: I am interested in telling stories about people and their interaction with technology.
Keanu, years ago you included a clause in your contracts that said your performances were not to be manipulated without your consent. Isn’t it true?
Reeves: Yep, in numbers. I don’t mind if someone blinks while editing. But earlier, in the early 2000s, or maybe it was the 90s, my performance changed. [He won’t say which.] They put tears on my face and I’m like, “Huh?!” It was like, I don’t even need to be here.
And now someone like Bruce Willis has become involved in advertising for Russian telecommunications. As an actor, what do you think about deepfakes?
Reeves: What is frustrating is that you are losing your free will. When you perform in a film, you know that you will be edited, but you are in it. If you enter deepfake country, none of your points of view will be there. This is scary. It will be interesting to see how people deal with these technologies. They have such a cultural, sociological impact, and this species is being studied. There is so much “data” about behavior right now. Technology finds its place in our education, in our medicine, in our entertainment, in our politics, in how we fight and how we work.
Matrix just looks more and more wildly prophetic day by day. AI doesn’t control our lives yet, but…
Reeves: [in his best Agent Smith voice] They started making decisions for you. He became our world.
I tried to explain the plot Matrix to this 15 year old and that the character I played was really fighting for what was true. And this young man is like, “Who cares if it’s true?” People are growing up with these tools: we already listen to Nirvana-style AI-created music, there is NFT digital art. It’s kinda cool See what cute cars can do! But behind this is a corporatocracy that seeks to control these things. Culturally and socially, we will face the value of the present or the non-value. And then what are we being forced to do? What will they present to us?
Reeves: This is the sensorium. This is a spectacle. And this is a system of control and manipulation. We are on our knees, looking at the walls of the cave and see the ledges, and we have no way to look back. Or to the side. Sorry to continue here, Chad.
Stahelian: No, it’s great.
Reeves: It is also a hobby – it seems to us, animals on the planet, like, How to conquer death? How do we change the weather? How to replace nature?